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Self-Directed Route

Page history last edited by FOLIO Team 12 years ago

FOLIOz: Facilitated Online Learning as an Interactive Opportunity in Australia


Evaluating Information Skills Training Courses (InfoSkills2)


Information on following the self-directed FOLIOz route


What is the self-directed FOLIOz route?

The FOLIOz self-directed route has been included in the InfoSkills2 course in order to give participants more flexibility by offering them a choice of opting out of working in a buddy group and instead completing all group tasks alone. There will be a number of group tasks set during the InfoSkills2 course. It will be these tasks that those choosing the self-directed route will be expected to work on alone. All InfoSkills2 participants will be automatically assigned to a small buddy group to work with on these tasks unless they contact the FOLIO Team at: efolio@sheffield.ac.uk before 5pm on Monday 4 August 2008 to indicate that they wish to follow the self-directed route, stating full reasons for their decision.


How does the self-directed route differ to the usual buddy group route?

In many of the previous FOLIOz courses, participants have worked in varying sizes of buddy groups on several tasks and/or discussions during the course. The FOLIOz Team have found that this helps to overcome some of the isolation distance learners often feel and enables participants to share ideas and experiences, much as they would at a face-to-face training session. E-learning research often reports of "the loneliness of the long distance learner" and that social engagement with fellow course members is vital to combat this. The FOLIOz Team have utilised informal icebreakers within buddy groups to enable participants to get to know each other and simulate some of the social interaction that again would take place at a face-to-face course.


Although buddy groups offer definite benefits in supporting working together, we have found from previous FOLIOz courses that this system does not suit all participants. Because of issues like time away from the office, learning styles and possibly prior "bad experiences" of such on-line collaborative work, some of you may be deterred from taking up courses where you have to work in such groups. So, we are now offering the option of pursuing a "self-directed route". Where other students are working in groups, we will provide anyone choosing the self-directed route with an alternative version of the task which they can complete independently without needing input from other participants.


If I choose the self-directed route, what implications will this have on my course work?

If you choose the self-directed route, you will still have to complete the same number of tasks for the portfolio which you hand in at the end of the course. On the one hand, you may find your workload slightly greater, as for some tasks you will have to provide all the answers, rather than working on one part with your buddies providing the other material. On the other hand, you may be able to finish some tasks more speedily, as you will not have to wait for contributions from other buddies, where the task involves a "chain" of input leading to collation at the end. As far as possible, we have designed the buddy group and the self-directed routes so that you need to put in the same amount of time and effort to produce a good portfolio, while having some choice over how you get there.


How will my portfolio be assessed?

Buddy/group interaction is one of the usual assessment criteria for marking FOLIO portfolios (see: http://foliozinfoskills2.pbwiki.com/f/groupsupportassessment.doc ). However, for those following the self-directed route, an alternative "Self-directed" assessment criteria will be applied instead (see: http://foliozinfoskills2.pbwiki.com/f/selfdirectassessment.doc). All other assessment criteria will be the same for both self-directed and buddy group routes. Although we will use slightly different criteria for marking portfolios from those who have worked in groups or solo, the final mark will reflect an overall assessment of the quality of the work, and it will be possible for conscientious students following either option to get a good portfolio mark.


Will the FOLIOz Team find my reasons for wanting to work alone acceptable?

Due to the reported benefits of group working on e-learning courses, the FOLIOz Team recommend that all potential self-directed participants consider their decision very carefully. We imagine that most participants choosing the self-directed route will have a valid reason, such as planned annual leave meaning a significant time away from the course etc. If we wish to clarify your reasons, we will contact you via email prior to the start of the course.


Will I be able to change my mind and start working with a group once the course has started?

Unfortunately due to the administrative arrangements of allocating participants to groups, once the course has started participants following the self-directed route will not be able to subsequently join a buddy group if they change their mind.


What do previous FOLIOz participants think about working in buddy groups?

Most FOLIOz and FOLIO participants have found it beneficial to work in a group during the course. Many participants have commented very positively on the buddy group scheme in the course evaluation. These comments include:


“It was good to have buddies out there grappling with the same questions and giving inspiration and impetus to get the job done”


“It was very useful and helped a lot to discuss things, and share problems and ideas. It would have been quite isolating without a buddy group I feel.”


“Crucial to the success of the course. Would be a very isolating experience without this interaction.”


“It is an excellent way to share ideas and to meet colleagues in the same field.”


“I think the buddy group scheme is excellent and a very important feature of an online/distance learning course.”


What if I have further questions about the self-directed FOLIOz route?


If you have any additional questions about the self-directed FOLIOz route, please contact the FOLIOz Team by email at: efolio@sheffield.ac.uk We will endeavour to answer your query within 48 hours.


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